LB Paul Posluszny

2004 Statistics

Coach: Joe Paterno
343-116-3, 39 years
2004 Record: 4-7
at Boston College LOST 7-21
UCF WON 37-13
at Wisconsin LOST 3-16
at Minnesota LOST 7-16
at Ohio State LOST 10-21
at Indiana WON 22-18

2004 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2005 Outlook

As is the case every season, we wonder if this is it for Paterno. While a decent season ending with bowl win could be a proper sendoff, it just might convince him to stay around an even longer (he signed a contract extension last spring that's good through 2008). If anything, the two wins PSU pulled out to end the season at 4-7 were the worst thing to happen to the Joe-Must-Go crowd. But they were the best thing for true fans who just want to see good football in Happy Valley and wins to usher them home.

The defensive side of the ball is fine. Word is: that's the side Paterno involves himself with the least. No "offense" to the living legend, but he'd be wise to take a step back and give Hall more freedom to achieve this way, too. And that divisive two-coach play-calling system needs to be scrapped, even if means Paterno goes back to calling the O himself - there should only be one cook in the kitchen. As for special teams, a hallmark of Paterno's past success, this program needs a true coordinator, not different assistants involved with different aspects. Due to the guarded nature of the program, we won't know how much/many change(s) (if any) is/are implemented until the fall (even if then). In case you didn't know yet or couldn't tell, Paterno can be stubborn and controlling, but his heart is in the right place, always.

This is still Paterno's best shot at a top-10 team since the LaVar Arrington-led group of 1999 (the 2002 team was a fluke-surprise in a down year for the conference). He hasn't had a group finish that high since 1996, and Penn State has had four losing teams in five years after only having one in Paterno's first 34 seasons. Every power, with the exception of Michigan, seems to go through its slumps. The excellent recruiting class Paterno landed is a sign that the old man should be able to get things back on the upswing before riding off into the sunset. We feel that if he can't do it this year with such amazing talent, then there should be a change in the offseason, period.

The schedule is favorable, starting with four relatively easy games followed by home dates with Minnesota and Ohio State, which allow for a quick start. The Lions then play at Michigan, which has clobbered them six straight times, and close the season on the road against a Michigan State bunch looking for redemption. On the bright side, Iowa is off the schedule and Purdue comes to Happy Valley.

Though this team looks like Ohio State's 2002 championship team (on the field, anyway), its offense will cost it a few close games, but in a good, character-growing way, not the disappointing, repeating-mistakes ways of their recent past. But the defense will help to win a few that PSU shouldn't, and will keep them in every contest, regardless. This team promises much more than the ready-to-fail crews led by recently-departed QB Zach Mills, so expect them to break out of this millennium's mold and again perch itself amongst the nation's elite (top 25) by December. The spirit of Mother Dunn will rest happy, once again…

Projected 2005 record: 7-4
QB - 2.5 DL - 3.5
RB - 2.5 LB - 4.5
WR - 2 DB - 4
OL - 3 ..

Passing: Michael Robinson, 39-14-5, 170 yds., 1 TD

Rushing: Tony Hunt, 169 att., 777 yds., 7 TD

Receiving: Tony Hunt, 39 rec., 334 yds., 0 TD

Scoring: Tony Hunt, 7 TD, 42 pts.

Punting: Jeremy Kapinos, 59 punts, 41.8 avg.

Kicking: None

Tackles: Paul Posluszny, 104 tot., 52 solo

Sacks: Paul Posluszny, Matthew Rice, Scott Paxson, 3 each

Interceptions: Anwar Phillips, 4 for 47 yds.;Calvin Lowry, 4 for 74 yds.

Kickoff returns: Rodney Kinlaw, 10 ret., 19.8 avg., 0 TD

Punt returns: Calvin Lowry, 28 ret., 8.3 avg., 0 TD


CB Alan Zemaitis
OFFENSE: Zack Mills-QB, Paul Jefferson-FB, Gerald Smith-WR, Robbie Gould-K
DEFENSE: Derek Wake-OLB, Andrew Guman-FS

The status of senior Michael Robinson is nebulous at best. Robinson, a slash-type athlete, told Penn State's student newspaper in late January that he's preparing to take over at QB. Meanwhile, five-star sophomore Anthony Morelli told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he intends to start this fall. Joe Paterno's program guards information tightly, so regardless of what we see this spring, expect the unexpected here. Paterno is all about rewarding dedicated seniors, but he could easily play the raw-but-capable Morelli over Robinson, a part-time starter the past two seasons who has yet to show an accurate arm or good decision making. But if the old man was seriously considering Morelli, then why didn't he redshirt him last fall? On a team that lacks playmakers at the skill positions, it seems illogical to start Robinson over Morelli, their future regardless of RSing. Expect Robinson at WR or even safety, and Morelli taking over at the helm. Considering that this team was dead last in the Big Ten in almost every major offensive category, it's time for a fresh look. Even the conservative Paterno will see that if he hasn't already. With senior Chris Ganter leaving the team, the backup should be redshirt freshman Paul Cianciolo, who Paterno has complimented for his strong arm and potential.

Running Back
After a stellar freshman season, Austin Scott found his way into Paterno's doghouse. Fellow soph Tony Hunt stepped into the void and remains the No. 1 tailback. Hunt has nice size and speed, and he looked good in flashes in rushing for 777 yards and leading the team with 39 catches. But his instincts were shaky as he frequently missed openings or tried to force things. Scott is the more explosive back (he averaged 5.7 yards per carry compared to Hunt's 4.6), and his tumble down the depth chart ignited an already fed-up Blue and White fan base. Despite rumors of a transfer, he's reportedly slimmed down from 225 to 206 and reduced his body fat percentage from 18 to eight (winter workouts). Paterno has recently favored a committee approach here. That scenario seems likely, and it should prove effective in this "run-happy valley" attack. Expect improved team rushing numbers with the line returning intact. At fullback, BranDon Snow should take over after moving from LB. Snow is a quick load who should be worth more than just his blocking worth. The Lions love to play power football between the tackles in short yardage situations, but they use their fullbacks more often (and effectively) as receivers. Snow is a track guy who can take punishment, so we call for a throwback Lydell Mitchell-Franco Harris approach where that one-two punch can open that passing game up as hasn't happened since pre-Mills days.

One of the many problems with this offense has been a lack of playmakers at receiver. No wonder the Nittany Nation was ecstatic over the signing of Derrick Williams. Williams, dubbed the nation's top recruit for any position (, graduated early so he could take part in spring drills. He'll be expected to make those game-breakers PSU has lacked. The well-sized Robinson, who led a putrid WR group with 33 catches despite seeing time at QB, will be a nice option if he plays here. However, his routes were often imprecise and they still need work. Sophomore Mark Rubin is proven as a well-sized, soft-handed possession guy. Depth here is misleading - the other receivers are mostly guys who have been expected to make good on their potential for at least two seasons. There's reason for optimism here, but don't expect Air Paterno to debut this fall. At best, the passing game will improve from non-existent to adequate.

Tight End
Isaac Smolko's return at TE gives Morelli (or Robinson) another somewhat reliable target. Smolko was No. 3 on the team with 21 grabs, so TEs will get looks. We're not talking Kyle Brady here, but Smolko is a dependable guy who fits in nicely with an experienced offensive line. As PSU's QB spreads the coverage, Smolko and Québec-newbie Francis Claude (4.6 speed) will be much more effective underneath. Again, there's reason for optimism.

Offensive Line
Offensive coordinator Galen Hall took a lot of heat for his implementation of a zone-blocking scheme that never seemed to sync within the performance up front. Well, with everybody back, there's no excuse for floundering within the system. Center E.Z. Smith is the leader of the unit, and right guard Tyler Reed has been the most consistent. On the left side, guard Charles Rush and tackle Levi Brown are converted defensive linemen who should be more comfortable with their roles. John Wilson unseated Andrew Richardson at right tackle seven weeks in, and now both are back. No one here will be competing for all-anything, but this group will gel to be steady enough for improved rushing numbers. One area Penn State didn't rank last in was pass protection -- the Lions were fourth in the Big Ten with just 19 sacks allowed. So maybe this zone blocking thing isn't all that bad, especially with Morelli as the future.

It's amazing that Penn State could only win four with a defense that never allowed more than 21 points in a game. Had the offense done anything, this season would have been markedly different. Paterno brought in the veteran Hall before last season, but, ever the control freak, Joe Pa never gave him his needed space and freedom. After much speculation to the contrary, Hall announced he was coming back, but no word on whether the ridiculous play-calling system would be scrapped (Hall calls the running plays while Paterno's son, Jay, decides on the passing plays). This inefficiency contributed to last year's disaster almost as much as the lack of talent. The latter ailment can have the usual remedy of being cured with another top-heavy recruiting coup. One major intangible affects the former - Paterno's son being so/too entrusted seems Bowden-esque/nepotistic, with Daddy's little boy (also the QBs coach, like Jeff Bowden is) learning the ropes as coordinator while a major program is regressed from years of development(s). Just how long can the alums watch as the full potential of class after supremely talented class is squandered? Potential in the froshes, along with plenty of experience back, should lead to better production on this side of things. How much better? With another strong defense, the answer here to that question will determine how far Penn State goes in '05. Well, that and being able to score more than a combined total of 30 first-quarter points (and only 26 in the crucial fourth) all season.


TB Tony Hunt


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Michael Robinson-Sr (6-2, 227) Anthony Morelli-So (6-4, 212)
FB BranDon Snow-Jr (6-1, 238) Matt Hahn-So (6-0, 218)
TB Tony Hunt-Jr (6-2, 221) Austin Scott-Jr (6-0, 223)
WR Mark Rubin-So (6-3, 211) Terrell Golden-So (6-3, 208)
WR Derrick Williams-Fr (6-0, 191) Jim Kanuch-Jr (6-1, 193)
TE Isaac Smolko-Sr (6-5, 266) Patrick Hall-Jr (6-2, 256)
OT Levi Brown-Jr (6-5, 315) Chris Auletta-So (6-4, 296)
OG Charles Rush-Sr (6-2, 301) Mark Farris-Jr (6-6, 273)
C E.Z. Smith-Sr (6-1, 275) Lance Antolick-Sr (6-3, 282)
OG Tyler Reed-Sr (6-4, 302) Robert Price-jr (6-0, 293)
OT John Wilson-Sr (6-6, 317) Andrew Richardson-Sr (6-5, 297)
K Kevin Kelly-Fr (5-9, 175) Patrick Humes-Fr (5-8, 150)



Defensive Line
This unit will be special. All four starters return, as do capable backups Lavon Chisley and Ed Johnson. This front provides plenty of penetration, forcing enough chaos on the line to open up coordinator Tom Bradley's blitz packages. Tamba Hali and Matt Rice are PSU's best DE duo since Courtney Brown and Brad Scioli. Both are big run stoppers who were fourth and fifth on the team in tackles, respectively. The relentless Hali, who often makes stops well downfield, is the most likely star of this bunch. Jay Alford and Scott Paxson aren't the biggest DTs in the conference at 275 apiece, but both are intense, athletic and constantly in foes' faces. While this group is tough against the run (34th-rated, allowing 3.2 yards per try and just nine ground scores), the six guys mentioned combined for just 10.5 sacks. These Lions will surely be able to again be left alone so the back-seven can continue to rein supremely (as kings of their jungle - sorry, couldn't help it).

After a brief hiatus, Linebacker U. is back with a pair of smash-mouthers in Dan Connor and Paul Posluszny. The question here, entering the spring, is whether the hard-hitting Connor will start in the middle or outside. He played both spots as a true freshman, finishing second in tackles behind outside stud Posluszny, who improved each week despite playing with an ailing shoulder. A bone-crushing hitter, Posluszny (12 TFLs) has a vision for how to stop ensuing plays that is rarely "seen". Tim Shaw started inside, but was replaced by Connor. A fast ex-RB who is still learning the position, he'll just have to improve his run instincts. Expect tough former fullback J.R. Zwierzynski and redshirt freshman Tyrell Sales to use their size-speed packages well, with two true froshes also talented enough to help right away. Even when on the field a majority of the game, this group can cover ground, evidenced by opponents' modestly stellar average of 10.2 yards per catch.

Defensive Back
Most of the group that formed the nation's No. 6 pass defense (No.4 in efficiency) is back, including second-team all-Big Ten corner Alan Zemaitis, a game-changing playmaker who is just about the best athlete on this team. He's also a leader who's infectious efforts, along with those of Connor and Posluszny, have brought the swagger back to this D. Counterpart Anwar Phillips also blossomed into a shut-down corner in his first year as a starter, breaking up 10 passes and picking off four, both team-highs, as foes threw away from Zemaitis. Pittsburgh-area recruit Justin King (top CB in 2005's recruiting class), who grey-shirted (enrolled early) with Williams, gives this secondary another playmaker. Calvin Lowry, one of the team's fastest players, returns at HERO (fitting name, proven by his four fumble recoveries), and Paul Cronin takes over at free safety after shining as a nickel back. Bradley loves to use those nickel schemes to stop high-powered passers, and he'll still have enough depth to do that with youngsters who know how to keep the play in front of them effectively (only eight I-A teams allowed less than ten passing TDs, and PSU led the nation by allowing only five). Don't expect many big plays against this bunch.

Bradley entered last season worried about how his young D would play the run, but wound up with a unit that exceeded everyone's expectations and made him Paterno's likely successor. The Lions are strong and deep in every facet here, giving opposing offensive coordinators nothing to exploit. Despite constantly poor field position and little rest, Bradley's D was fifth in all of I-A for scoring defense (and T-1st in allowing just 18 total TDs). Don't expect any drop-off, not with just two starters gone and some modest, if not great, (player) improvements. More game-altering turnovers are necessary for a good defense to be a great defense, and that will soon come, especially with so much experience and confidence throughout this unit. But for all of the superlatives aimed at this season's bunch, they have to solve one major problem - allowing foes to convert 39% of their third-down tries. We expect this essential statistic to speak volumes for the true commanding nature here, so when it dips below 30%, you'll know they are truly hitting on all cylinders.


DE Tamba Hali


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Tamba Hali-Sr (6-3, 258) Lavon Chisley-Sr (6-5, 266)
DT Jay Alford-Jr (6-3, 283) Ed Johnson-Jr (6-2, 289)
DT Scott Paxson-Sr (6-5, 275) Elijah Robinson-So (6-2, 288)
DE Matthew Rice-Sr (6-4, 262) Amani Purcell-So (6-3, 255)
OLB Dan Connor-So (6-3, 215) Spencer Ridenhour-Fr (6-0, 203)
ILB Tim Shaw-Jr (6-1, 231) Tyrell Sales-Fr (6-2, 231)
OLB Paul Posluszny-Jr (6-2, 230) J.R. Zwierzynski-Jr (6-2, 229)
CB Alan Zemaitis-Sr (6-2, 189) Brent Wise-So (5-10, 193(
CB Anwar Phillips-Sr (6-1, 180) Donnie Johnson-Jr (6-0, 204)
HERO Calvin Lowry-Sr (6-0, 194) Nolan McCready-Jr (6-0, 201)
FS Chris Harrell-Sr (6-2, 201) Paul Cronin-Sr (6-2, 218)
P Jeremy Kapinos-Jr (6-1, 217) ..




Philadelphia-area recruit Kevin Kelly, a scholarship kicker, takes over. NY-native Matthew Waldron will walk-on and be ready (likely on kickoffs) for Kelly to falter. Like the punt coverage, more speed will help.

Jeremy Kapinos, a junior, returns for his third year after another solid campaign. Jeremy landed 18 balls inside the 20 and had no blocks, a bright spot on an otherwise troubled special teams unit. That newly recruited speed must be used here. Though net results are to again be decent, Kapinos gets it out of there almost too quickly, which has resulted in foes returning five for TDs the past two seasons?

Return Game
During a press conference, Paterno called it a "dumb question" when asked if he was ready to make changes on a punt return unit that ranked 92nd in the nation with just 7.9 yards per attempt. Lowry is a fine safety, but he's been cadaverous as a return guy for two seasons. Paterno would be better off trying lightning-quick newbies Williams and/or King here - either would impress quickly, even Paterno. The offense needs all the field position it can get.